Name: Jesse Donald Phelps
Rank/Branch: W2/US 7th Army Special Forces Group
Unit: Aviation Company, (Assault Helicopter) 229th Attack Helicopter
Battalion, assigned to 1st Cavalry Division
Aviation Company, 7th SFGA was withdrawn from the 7th SFGA and redesignated as one of the four companies (A-D) of the 229th Aviation Battalion.   It would have been designated, for example, Co A, 229th Avn Bn (Aslt Hel).  It was not uncommon for units and personnel to unofficially insist on using their old designation when they were absorbed into another unit and redsignated.  That appears to be the case here.
Date of Birth: 01 October 1937 (Ogden UT)
Home City of Record: Boise ID
Date of Loss: 28 December 1965
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 135702N 1084955E (BR570450)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 4
Acft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1D
Refno: 0224
Other Personnel In Incident: Donald C. Grella; Thomas Rice Jr.; Kenneth L.
Stancil (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more
of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources,
correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.
Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2009.
SYNOPSIS: The large influx of American combat and support battalions
arriving in Vietnam in the mid-1960's afforded the Army Special Forces a
wealth of potential military backup and engineer support. Airmobile infantry
promised quick and decisive response to CIDG patrolling opportunities or
adverse camp situations. The availability of engineers assured required camp
construction and defensive strengthening of existing sites.
In exchange, the Special Forces provided support, regional intelligence and
area indoctrination for the arriving Army formations. In mid to late
December 1965, Special Forces Major Brewington's B-22 Detachment helped the
1st Cavalry Division to settle into the An Khe area. Assisting, was the
229th Attack Helicopter Battalion of the Aviation Company of 7th Special
Forces Group (Assault Helicopter).
On December 28, 1965 a UH1D helicopter from the Aviation Company departed An
Khe on a supply mission to a combat unit in the early hours. Radio
transmissions revealed that flight was difficult because of weather and
darkness. The pilot, WO2 Jesse Phelps, radioed for weather reports. The
other crew of the aircraft consisted of SP5 Donald Grella, crewchief; WO3
Kenneth Stancil, co-pilot; and SP4 Thomas Rice, door gunner.
When the aircraft was about 10 minutes' flying time from An Khe, radio
contact was suspended, and no further word was received from the aircraft.
When the UH1D failed to return, an intensive search was conducted, with no
sign of either the lost aircraft or its crew. The crew was believed to be
all killed.
The crew of the UH1D are among nearly 2500 Americans missing in Southeast
Asia. In the 1950's Henry Kissinger predicted that "limited political
engagements" would result in nonrecoverable prisoners of war. This
prediction was fulfilled in Korea and Vietnam, where thousands of men and
women remain missing when ample evidence exists that many of them survived
(from both wars) and are alive today. For Americans, and particularly the
families of those who are missing, this abandonment of military personnel is
unacceptable and the policy that allows it must be changed before another
generation is left behind in some future war.


Sent: 9/15/2009 7:36:07 PM
Subject: CWO Jesse Phelps

The family of CWO Jesse Phelps, US Army, whose remains are being returned home after Missing-in-Action since 1965 in Vietnam , has finalized plans for his services.  

The services will be conducted at Capital Christian Center , 2760 E Fairview Avenue , Meridian , Idaho , 83642 commencing at 10:00 AM on Thursday, October 1, 2009, the birthday of CWO Phelps. He will be interred at the Idaho Veterans Cemetery with services commencing at approximately 11:30 AM - 12:00 Noon at the Committal Shelter, depending on travel time from the memorial services. There will be a reception at Capital Christian Center immediately following the interment services at the cemetery.

The remains of CWO Phelps will be arriving at the Boise airport either September 27th or 28th.  He will be arriving on commercial air. Proper Military Honors will be conducted at all stops on his journey home. As soon as I find out what time his plane is due to arrive, I will send another email.  I urge everyone that can be there on his arrival, to be there and honor his homecoming.

Please pass this information on to any veterans, communities, service organizations and any one else in your general location that might want to attend.  This is a very special time for the family of CWO Phelps, veterans of Vietnam , all veterans of the State of Idaho and the United States of America .

If you have questions, please let me know.

Jim Adams

Administrative Support Manager

Idaho Division of Veterans Services


A correction on the location for the reception after the services at the Idaho Veterans Cemetery .  The reception will be at the VFW Post 63 located on Chinden Blvd in Garden City from 1:00 PM until 4:00 PM. Sorry for the confusion.


April 08, 2010

U.S. Soldiers MIA from Vietnam War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of four U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

A group burial for U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth L. Stancil, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer Jesse D. Phelps, Boise, Idaho; Spc. Thomas Rice, Jr., Spartanburg, S.C.; and Spc. Donald C. Grella, Laurel, Neb., as well as Rice's individual remains burial will be tomorrow at Arlington National Cemetery. Stancil, Phelps and Grella were buried individually last year.

The four men were aboard a UH-1D Huey helicopter which failed to return from a mission over Gia Lai Province, South Vietnam to pick up special forces soldiers on Dec. 28, 1965. The exact location of the crash site was not determined during the war, and search and rescue operations were suspended after failing to locate the men after four days.

From 1993-2005, joint U.S.-Socialist Republic of Vietnam teams led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command attempted unsuccessfully to locate the site. But in April 2006, a joint team interviewed two local villagers, one of whom said he had shot down a U.S. helicopter in 1965. The villagers escorted the team to the crash site where wreckage was found. In March 2009, another joint team excavated the area and recovered human remains and other artifacts including an identification tag from Grella.

JPAC's scientists employed traditional forensic techniques in making these identifications, including comparisons of dental records with the remains found at the site.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at or call 703-699-1169.